Location, Location, Location by @JoanReeves #mgtab

man on motorcycle, woman standingLocation is supposed to be the most important thing in real estate, at least that’s what the old joke says. In writing, location, as in setting, is also very important. Why?

Because a location can tell you something about the characters. In The Key to Kristina, my novel in Forutune’s Favor: The Treasure, the heroine is from a sparsely-populated West Texas county.

In her words, she lives in a “crappy house trailer she called home in a dry, windy West Texas county.” Later, the reader learns, “Through the deserted highways of West Texas, she’d driven eighty until she reached a more populated area.”

Farther on, she says, “Yes, I know about video monitoring, but we don’t have to worry about Big Brother watching our every move in the wide open spaces where the buffalo once roamed.”

In truth, the lack of people, the wide open spaces, the crappy house trailer, and other details build a picture of a lonely woman of limited means.

Many West Texas counties are sparsely populated. I’ve driven through a lot of them and knew I wanted to set a book in one because the people are always friendly, the sunsets are amazing, and the monochromatic landscape can be either discouraging or beautiful depending on one’s mood.

From Desert to the Beach

From arid West Texas, I moved to Last Chance Beach for my next story, Hot August Night. This romance short story and the 13 others are set at a fictional resort island called Last Chance Beach.

I wrote the Legend of Last Chance Beach and included it in the box set. Then all of us created the details about the island paradise like the names of hotels, beach houses, restaurants, gift shops, and all the other businesses you’d find at an island resort. Creating the bible or the Master Plan of this community was a lot of fun.

When I created the concept of Last Chance Beach: Summer’s End, I thought of all the beaches I’ve loved: the one bordered by coral boulders below my house overlooking the East China Sea, the one in Italy on the Adriatic Sea, the one at a Mexican resort on the Pacific, and Galveston beach, the one nearest my home.

I took the atomosphere, the details, the landscape of trees, shrubs, and flowers, the character of the oceans—in other words all of the sensory details that make readers “identify” with the location even though this island resort is a figment of the imagination.

If you’re still “staying home” and wish you could travel, then do it the safe and easy way. Read a book! In The Key to Kristina, in Forutune’s Favor: The Treasure, the heroine starts out in West Texas, goes to Houston, then to Michigan, Memphis, a small town in Louisiana, and back to Houston.

Then, chasing a different kind of treasure, they head out to West Texas to a completely different area than where she started. That road trip is a lot of traveling!

Or pack your virtual suitcase and head to Last Chance Beach for Summer’s End! Maybe you’ll run into celebrity chef Zander Rojas, a former Navy S.E.A.L. and his nemesis, Chelsea Elliot, a Houston police detective who find a Hot August Night can change everything.

By the way, both of these box sets are priced at only 99¢, a bargain in anyone’s book. They’re both in Kindle Unlimited so if you’re a subscriber, you can “read free.”

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Better Late Than Never? by @JoanReeves #mgtab

I think the phrase “better late than never” came from someone who was simply overwhelmed with life and had too much to do in too little time.

Take today for instance. I had my day planner marked to post to this blog on the 23rd. However, I was so busy playing catch-up in other areas and meeting appointments that I completely forgot to check my day planner yesterday.

I hate missing something I’d scheduled. So, this post is “better late than never” I guess. Saying that once again made me investigate the origin of this expression which I’ve been using far too often of late.

According to what I found, the origin of “better late than never” can be found in classic literature. Attributed to Geoffrey Chaucer—yes, that far back—the phrase was first seen in 1386 in The Yeoman’s Tale, found in The Canterbury Tales, to wit: “For better than never is late; never to succeed would be too long a period.”

Rather than preen about quoting something that is vaguely intellectual, I think I’d rather promise myself to be better at prioritizing and always check my day planner at the end of the day.

I think I need to take a day off and do something fun like this sign says. Keep calm and read a book.

I have just the thing in mind too. Well, it’s not actually a book but a collection of short stories by my friends and me.

I’m talking about CHRISTMAS SHORTS, only 99cents on Amazon. My story in the collection is STUCK ON THE NAUGHTY LIST. I’ve been wanting to read the other stories in the set. Today, the weather in Houston is sunny and mild. I think I’ll take my Kindle outside to the patio and read.

CHRISTMAS SHORTS is a #1 Best Seller. some stories are sweet; some are spicy and deliciously naughty. In other words, there’s  something for everyone.

Grab a copy and see why everyone loves this box set.

Personally, I love short stories because they allow me to read and finish something in the fragments of time that somehow describe my days. Like many, I’m so busy that I find myself gravitating to short stories that satisfy my desire to read.

Be sure and enter the Authors Billboard November Giveaway and check out all the featured books on the Home Page. We have published many Box Sets so visit our Books Page and browse the wonderful bestselling collections we’ve created.

Enjoy this Season of Giving Thanks and the calm before the storm of holiday shopping!

Ghost Towns of Texas by @JoanReeves #mgtab

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Well, it does if you’re a writer who began plotting and writing Christmas romances a few months ago.

You’re going to be delighted with CHRISTMAS SHORTS, the new holiday romance collection we’ve created just for you. I’m taking the opportunity today to do a cover reveal for my story in the box set, Stuck on the Naughty List, a romance about a girl who left the man she loved so he could live the life he’d been groomed for since birth.

Now, you may wonder what that has to do with Ghost Towns of Texas, one of my hobbies one might say.

Stuck on the Naughty List is set in Capitola, Texas, a town that no longer exists. Like many of the more than 1,000 ghost towns, Capitola, located in Mason County which is part of the Texas Hill Country,boomed briefly and then faded away.

This was the 3rd book I’ve set in a town that was once a real town and is now just a memory.

Capitola intrigued me from the moment I read about it because it was founded by a woman—and not just any woman, but an avid reader.

Sarah E. Jenkins, the postmistress, founded the community was founded in 1894. She loved to read and named the town after the heroine in a popular novel of that era: The Hidden Hand, or, Capitola the Madcap by American author E.D.E.N. Southworth. (That’s Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte Southworth.)

The little community failed to thrive, and the post office closed its doors a dozen years later. Then the route of the main road was altered, and the town faded away. However, it was the perfect inspiration for me to create a series with a western swing dance hall, the Capitola Palace Dance Hall, as the center of the social life in the town and surrounding counties.

In case you don’t know, American Western Swing music is a genre that’s entirely Texan. It came out of the Great Depression with Bob Wills as one of the co-founders of the genre.

The song by Waylon Jennings, “Bob Wills Is Still the King,” is a tribute to Wills and Western Swing music which is played in Austin and by popular bands like Asleep at the Wheel. (Check YouTube!)

I loved “meeting” Cassie and Ben and will feature them in the second book as they join forces with a couple of newcomers to save the Capitola Palace Dance Hall from destruction.

While you’re waiting for CHRISTMAS SHORTS, be sure and check out all the other wonderful holiday collections and other box sets we’ve produced. Remember to enter our Giveaway.

Enjoy autumn! It’s delightful here in Texas.

Strong Women!

I’m the brunette in red, my mom (white hair) is next to me, her mother on the end. The others are three of my five daughters.

I know, it was just Fathers Day, but I was reared by a single mother.,,in the 60s!
My mother divorced in 1962, tried a stepfather for us, then when that ended horribly, decided she’d do it by herself. Now, that might not sound like such a big thing, but fifty years ago, it was.
First off, just being a divorced woman was a horrible stigma as was being in a family without a father. I swear, there were many kids whose mothers wouldn’t let me play with them because my mother wasn’t married. Divorced woman automatically meant ‘loose’ or ‘slutty’ woman to some folks.
And what a challenge! Even if there had been welfare (and there might have been), we weren’t on it. My mother groomed dogs, cleaned hotel rooms, did whatever she could to scrape together enough so we had food and a safe place to live. Eventually, she got a job as an accounting clerk. She and a young man had identical job titles and responsibilities, but he made twice as much money. When she asked her boss about it, he said a man was the head of the family and needed it. She reminded him that the co-worker wasn’t even married and that she had four kids! “Well, he could have them one day…”
I can’t remember what she did at that point. She couldn’t leave until she had another job, so she probably sucked it down. I know she did wind up changing employers down the road. Still, she always made less than men.
All four of us turned out fine, too. Even though my youngest brother was physically and mentally handicapped, he graduated from high school. Other brother served in the Army and Reserves and went to college on the GI Bill, graduating with a bachelor’s degree. Older sister married well and, after ten years of working and going to school part time while rearing two high-achieving children, also earned a bachelor’s degree. No trouble with the law for any of us or our kids, either!
Well, I didn’t graduate from college, but I did manage to get USA Today Bestselling Author status a couple times and establish a successful business, starting out with nothing but chutzpah and tenacity…and a great role model.
Not bad for kids of a divorced woman. Correction. A strong woman!
Do strong woman stories inspire you? Check out Invincible – Strong and Fearless box set. Inspiring stories for women (and men) of all ages.